Teen mothers in Masikita village in Samburu North Sub County have been have been sensitized to be anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) ambassadors in their village especially during the ongoing school holidays when girls are subjected to FGM and child marriages.
Speaking during an inter-generational dialogue in Masikita primary school, 19-year-old and mother of two Manuella Leshore said that negative cultural practices have disadvantaged girls from an early age.
She also suggested the formation of a young mothers’ group which will spearhead the fight against FGM and early marriages in Masikita area.
“I am glad this sensitive conversation has been brought to the interior parts of Samburu County. We were subjected to FGM and early marriage but we will make sure our daughters will not go through the pain caused by FGM especially during child birth,” she said.
Leshore noted that many girls in Masikita have been denied education because they are beaded by their parents and are forced to look after goats and once they show signs of puberty, they are subjected to FGM and married off.
“Once a girl is given beads by her father to wear around her neck, it means she can’t go to school and her work is to look after goats and other domestic chores until she is old enough to be married off and this has to end,” she said.
Human rights activist and Akili Dada member Beryl Khalamwa said that Akili Dada’s main goal is to empower girls and young women in Samburu from an early age and equip them with the relevant skills and knowledge to ‘say no’ to negative cultural practices.
“Eliminating vices deeply embedded in culture is something that takes time to achieve and to have a long time solution that is why we target young girls and mothers to give them a voice in decision making in the future.”
Area chief John Lesoloiyo warned parents not to subject their daughters to FGM and child marriages saying there are laws that protect children from such cruelty.
He noted that most of the elders especially in interior parts of the county think that a girl becomes a woman when she hits puberty and adolescence and that’s when she is subjected to FGM and married off.
“With such sensitizations they are now aware that a child is one who is 18 years and below and laws protecting children exist. I warn those who are still subjecting their children to FGM to stop or face the law,” he said.
County director for Gender Albert Wanjohi said the sensitization is one of the activities during the sixteen days of activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV) which begun on November 25 to December 10 sensitizing the public against any form of GBV.
Wanjohi noted that the government’s goal is to completely eradicate FGM and child marriages as per the Kisima declaration signed by Samburu elders and witnessed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2021.
By Robert Githu